The international travel guide for the gay community, which has been published on an annual basis for the last 40 years, informs its readers about the legal situation for gays and lesbians in each of the 138 countries listed in the guide. The editorial staff stands in regular contact with the Foreign Office, the foreign embassies in Germany as well as LGBT-(Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans-gender) activists from around the world.
Among the winners in 2013 are the USA (+8 ranks) and countries like Panama (+15), Taiwan (+14), Fiji (+14), Brazil (+8), Thailand (+8), Chile (+8), Malta (+8), New Zealand (+5) and Uruguay (+3). The reasons are new laws or constitutions allowing gay marriage or implementing new anti-discrimination laws.
The biggest loser is India, which re-criminalized homosexuality in 2013 and drops 15 ranks to rank 105 on the Gay Travel Index.
USA: A year of decisions
The highlight from 2013 from an LGBT-view came without a doubt from the USA. In June, the Supreme Court passed two important rulings that improved the rights for gays and lesbians. So after years of legal uncertainty, the same-sex marriage law remains in force in California, and in the Doma-judgment gay and lesbian marriages, which were performed in states where this was legally possible, may not be excluded from all the advantages under federal law. These ground-breaking judgments brought vast movement to the discussion about the same-sex marriages and more states than ever before have promoted the legalization within such a short space of time (amongst them Hawaii, Colorado, Illinois, Maine and New Mexico) – and the process continues. This positive development is reflected in the Spartacus Gay Travel Index, in which the United States could significantly better their ranking (+8).
India: The loser
The highest court of India hit the headlines in a very negative way from the point of view of gays and lesbians in 2013. In India homosexuality has been banned once again, after a previous legal instance was declared unconstitutional. For this reason India was the record breaker for 2013 in dropping down in our ranking. Hopefully, after upcoming elections in the largest democracy in the world, the discussion regarding the prohibition continues and the politicians finally take actions to change the current situation.
Mexico: Subject to scrutiny
In Mexico, this year’s partner country at the ITB travel show in Berlin, there were several judgments passed last year, strengthening the rights of gays and lesbians. Here politics also lags behind and it remains to be seen whether the government laws will be adjusted. Mexico ranks in the index in the upper middle field at position 40 (as of February 2014).
Germany: Under pressure
Germany still delays expansion of rights for gays and lesbians. After German chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel personally stated her strong opposition to same-sex marriage and the adoption rights and after the success of the CDU in the last federal election, gays and lesbians can only look to the Federal Constitutional Court, where the equality for lesbian and gays has been demanded for years.
Little change on the top and the bottom
As in previous years, Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Russia remain at the bottom of the Gay Travel Index 2014. The homophobia and homophobic legislation in Russia in general were brought to focus by the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi and culminated in rejected invitations from some state representatives such as US president Barack Obama, German president Joachim Gauck and the French president François Hollande. At the top of the index little has changed: Sweden remains at the top, followed by Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, which all share the second position.
The complete Spartacus Gay Travel Index can be found online at: www.spartacusworld.com/gaytravelindex.pdf